|From In the Garden|
A new garden starts with an idea, a spot of ground, a garden hose, and a shovel here at Tiger Gardens. My philosophy is the more the gardens I have the less mowing I have to do! The area of this new garden is the spot a trampoline was covering for many years (you can see the trampoline in the above photo but we have since given this to my neighbors so no more unsightly trampoline in the garden). As such, there was nothing but weeds in this location. Think wild strawberries, plantains and spurge. Yuck! But really here at Tiger Gardens the real reason most gardens are started are to surround a tree or other hardscape. In this case I planted the Japanese maple first (see it in the picture) and finally got around to finishing the garden months later. I find that starting small with planting the trees then digging the garden later works very well for my situation.
After I've had time to mull over just what I want to put in my new garden (including all the cool plants I find on other blogs), I begin to visualize a garden. In this case I added two more trees to this garden so the garden shape morphed to a somewhat loose triangular shape that is about 20' by 20'. It is quite big! Trust me when I tell you it is big because when I began digging every part of my body felt each shovelful. In order to fine tune the shape of the bed I always use a garden hose delegated just for this purpose. I next start digging....
While the dogs lay around and sleep. Ha! The dog's life! See all that digging in the foreground I've already done? Doesn't it look like the dogs have it bad-as bad as me? So bad three of them decided to go straight to sleep while I worked. Too bad I can't teach them how to use a shovel. It took me about 15 hours over three days of hard digging to dig out this bed. Like I said I'm not as young as I used to be so it takes me quite a bit longer. It used to be I could get this garden completely double dug in one day. Bella, the oddball out, decided to lay down on the Secret Patio all by herself. Here she is looking for those pesky squirrels that plague her every waking moment in the garden. Double digging is really what I wish to talk about in this post. More on this garden at a later date. As an ardent gardener in the early 1980s I read everything on gardening I could get my hands on. One of those books that made a big difference to me in my gardening life has been a Rodale book on organic gardening, and specifically on double digging. Don't ask me to remember the name or author but I do know it is an organic gardening book. It described the process of double digging and recommended all gardens be prepared in this way. I have always tried to prepare gardens in this manner but have not always been good about it. Well, this garden lucked out and I endeavored to double dig the entire thing.How do you do it you ask? Well, you first remove one shovelful of soil one shovelful deep and set it aside (after turf and weeds are removed). Then take that same shovel and turn the soil over underneath the removed soil. Go to the next row and remove that soil and place on your newly fluffed up soil. Keep going until the whole bed is done. Once done, add in the first row of soil you removed. If you do it right it is not a really big undertaking. Sometimes it is hard to see where you are working and sometimes the soils (topsoil and subsoil) get mixed up. But that was not the case with my garden. See the picture above? There are three rows pictured there. The first or top row is the newly turned over top soil from the middle lighter colored area. This middle area is lighter colored because my subsoil does not have as much organic matter in it as the top soil. You can clearly see the line of definition. The bottom dark area is undisturbed soil. Can you see the changes? My soil has tons of organic matter but I did add in coffee grounds and I will mulch the whole bed with a good layer of newspapers and organic mulch (probably composted leaves). I am betting weeds will be non-existent and the plants will quickly get established.
If you have dug the garden properly the entire bed will be raised a few inches above the surrounding ground. Visitors to Tiger Gardens always marvel that my beds are all raised and wonder what I add to make them raised. Nothing! It is simply owing to the way I dig the beds. The benefits of double digging are that it really opens up compacted soil by adding in all kinds of air spaces. Double digging also loosens the soil so that roots and water can penetrate easier. Both are really good thing for clay soils.
It is best not to walk on the soil after dug unless necessary, but a bit of walking for maintenance will not do too much harm. Above is the newly dug and planted garden taken from the same angle as the first picture. This all happened in three days-glad I don't do too many new gardens anymore. I will share the design of the garden in a later post. But let me just say that in addition to the J. maple 'Bloodgood', there is a 'Rhapsody in Pink' crepe myrtle, tall cannas, yellow button mums, columbine, hostas, dwarf nandinas, bouncing bets, catmint, foxgloves, and a serviceberry a good gardening friend gave to me. I had planned for another tree to go into this bed. A tree that I traveled all the way to North Carolina to purchase. Funny thing is that when I got to the nursery I realized the initial 'tree' I desired for this garden is not really a tree at all and it would not work for this garden. I actually came home without that plant but instead bought a replacement tree. That tree is too big for this garden so will go elsewhere in the garden. More on that at a later date.
in the garden....
P.S. The first picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I just wanted to get your attention with some pretty flowers. The yarrow and begonias play very well together in my garden-even in the fall.